Monday, May 21, 2018

How to let a game die gracefully

There are times when I feel like I'm a terrible game master.  I have probably developed some bad habits GMing for one group that I'm still carrying and they make me feel like I'm not very good at it.

I've been doing another run of one of my long established campaigns for another group.  Things were going okay, we seemed to be having a lot of fun at the sessions, but it's been hard for us to get together for a game recently, and it doesn't help that I feel like I'm not doing an exceptionally good job of GMing.

So, how do you let a game go?

You can go to radio silence.  Just stop sending out game invites, and let nature take it's course.  We tend to be fairly busy and one less thing pulling at our time is usually a relief. 

Send out a blameless message to shut the game down.  "With scheduling and the coming [INSERT SEASON HERE] let's close the game down...."  Perhaps leave the potential of reigniting the game at a later time.  No blame, no guilt. 

Send out a hate filled rant about how the players aren't dedicated to the game, and you can't work under these conditions.  Hey, there are GM divas out there, I know.

Don't be afraid to say "We should stop".  Best to end a faltering game then keep dragging people to the table.  If they are not happy with the game, guilting them or forcing them to continue playing will not make anyone happier.  If you think that sort of thing works, I recommend you seek out some sort of professional mental health care.

I have a game I need to let go.  So I'm going to go the guilt and blame free route.  The players have been fantastic, and I've enjoyed the time at the table regardless of if we were gaming or just socializing.  But I need to let the game go.  It's not fair to the players, and it's not fair to me.

Games go "unfinished" all the time.  Campaigns left in the middle, or last act, or worse after the first session.  It happens all the time.  for a game to really work you need the right people at the table and the right chemistry of characters, story, and rules.

What!  Rules!  Yes.  If you don't have the right mix of those things, even rules dear reader, then you're not going to have a successful game.  You might be able to survive if the chemistry of the rules is off, but trust me when I say that it helps things go well if that's right too.

So, rip the band-aid off.  Close that faltering game.  Don't cast any shade, don't be a jerk, just say "it was great, you guys were great, but we need to stop...."

Until next time, keep role-playing!